Is your child ready to be potty trained? Do we even need to wait for readiness, or can we actually potty train whenever we want?
Here, you’ll hear from trusted developmental pediatricians Dr. Janys Lim from Ontario, Canada, and Dr. Jack Herrin from Manila, Philippines.
I remember two of my mom friends.
One of them tried to potty train her child over a weekend.
Another did not even attempt to potty train her child at all. One day her child just said, “Mommy, I don’t want to wear diapers anymore” – and was dry (well, mostly), from then on.
So is one of them right and the other wrong?
What does it mean to be potty trained?
There are many definitions of potty training. This is one of the reasons why there’s a lot of confusion when it comes to “potty training readiness”!
If by potty training you mean the child is going to the toilet independently, then yes, we need to wait for readiness. Readiness is not about the child’s age, but about having the prerequisite developmental milestones.
What are the signs that my child is ready to be potty trained?
It’s important to be sensitive to your child’s cues. We don’t want there to be stress, frustration, and feelings of failure surrounding this!
Ability to communicate
Does your child use either words or gestures to communicate that they need? These can be gestures like tapping on the diaper, or signaling or telling their caregivers.
There may also be changes in facial expression that show the child is about to pee or poop. Ideally, there needs to be an interval between these cues and the actual peeing or pooping.
Ability to hold pee for a while
Parents can also watch out for how long their child can say dry. Observe also whether your child is able to pause a little between feeling the urge and actually peeing and pooping, because this gap is needed to get to the potty successfully.
Understanding that pee and poo needs to be done at a specific place
Does your child go to a particular place to pee and poo? Or does the child appear to want to pee or poo in private? These are also good signs of potty training readiness.
Is there one right way to potty train?
Contrary to what a lot of people insist on the internet, there is no single “right” way to potty train.
Potty training is cultural. My mother-in-law taught me how to recognize baby’s cues and bring baby to the potty when he’s ready. Only later did I learn that on the internet, this is actually called elimination communication.
A lot of people insist that there’s only one right way to do something and that if you’re not following their method then you’re doing something wrong. This is causing so much stress and guilt for parents – and it’s not even backed by science.
To claim that your method is the only correct one, you’ll need conclusive well-conducted studies that those who did not follow that method had adverse outcomes, and to date, I haven’t encountered any research that says this about any of the potty training methods.
What makes it even more confusing is that there are many definitions of potty training. If you bring your baby to the potty and baby goes – does this mean baby is potty trained? Or does potty training mean the child walks to the toilet independently and knows how to clean up afterward? And there’s poop and pee trained and day and night training – which don’t happen all at the same time.
To get step-by-step guidance on potty training your child, in a way that’s flexible and that respects your child where they are at, get our course Potty Training Playbook.
In the course, we’ll go deeper into:
- how to explain potty training to your child, so they understand what’s going on
- day vs night potty training (including answers to questions like, “Do we need to wake up the child at night while we’re potty training?”)
- building your child’s self-esteem while potty training
- dealing with challenges like constipation or toileting refusal
- considerations for children with special needs
Remember this – potty training is not a race. When your child enters college, the admission test will never ask at what age he was potty trained.
A lot of the expectations surrounding potty training come from culture and the environment. But in the end, what matters is that the potty training experience is pleasant and stress-free.